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Rapha Pro Team Lightweight bib shorts – review

Lightweight is one of those funny terms that can mean both ‘breathable and summery’ and ‘doesn’t weigh much on the scales’. As it happens, Rapha’s Pro Team Lightweight bib shorts fall into both of those categories, clearing that up before we’ve even started.

If you’re a fan of the classic black bib shorts look, Rapha’s Pro Team Lightweight shorts should be right up your street. They’ve done away with the coloured band on the Lightweight shorts (these are the Pro Team versions), and have a single coloured logo on the left leg, and a tone-on-tone black one on the right. It’s an elegant look, and you can get the logo in three different colours: coral (pictured here), green or white all three of which come with a matching colour in various jerseys. Ours here was paired up with the excellent Pro Team Climber’s jersey we reviewed recently.

It’s actually one of the things I really like about the Rapha range: how you can mix and match between lines but still match the colours. It means that by buying, say, these Pro Team Lightweight shorts, you’re not singularly committed to one matching jersey if you want to pair them up. For example, these shorts with the coral details will match with the aforementioned Climber’s Jersey, the Pro Team Aero jersey or the Pro Team jersey, three different options for three different riding goals.

Construction-wise, these shorts have every bit of the quality we’ve come to expect from Rapha. The flatlock stitching, used exclusively all over the shorts, is extremely well done and very comfortable, and extends up to the bibs as well.

The lower section features a couple of different types of material:.a slightly heavier, wear-resistant fabric on the base of the shorts that’s designed to stand up to rubbing against the saddle and the wear and tear of riding, and a lighter material on the sides and uppers designed for maximum breathability, hence the lightweight moniker. Both fabrics have a decent degree of stretch, which gives a sung but not overly tight fit – providing you get sizing right, of course. The stretchiness of the fabric means they move well with the legs while pedalling too, rather than pulling the skin.

The leg grippers are wide and strong, but manage to provide enough grip while remaining soft against the skin. They use a silicone print to achieve that grip, and it strikes just the right balance between stickiness and comfort.

The chamois itself is a Cytech pad and one that has perforations around the front and rear edges to add breathability to an element of the shorts that traditionally can struggle on that front. While it’s not the thickest pad I’ve ever used, the padding is in all the right places and it’s certainly extremely comfortable. Plus that lack of bulk lends itself to better breathability, working with the rest of the shorts to keep you cool and dry. Another often overlooked pad quality is flexibility. It’s all good having a thick well-padded chamois, but it needs to conform easily to your shape otherwise it’ll be uncomfortable. The Cytech pad in these shorts shapes superbly to the body, which is a big part of what makes the overall feel so good.

Up top, the bibs are made from an extremely lightweight open mesh, and you can see from just picking them up that this is one part of the shorts where Rapha have managed to save weight. It’s extremely breathable, but the one touch I like is that the section on each bibs designed to fit over the top of the shoulders is made from a different, slightly softer material which is an excellent little comfort-increasing touch. There’s also the ‘radio pocket’ on the back, it’s nigh on impossible to get to mid-ride, but a really good place to store money for a café stop.

Conclusion

The Rapha Pro Team Lightweight bibs certainly fulfill their aim to keep you cool while you ride. But on top of that, the choice of fabric and the way the shorts conform to, and move with, the body makes them comfortable enough for all day riding. Definitely up there with the best hot weather shorts we’ve tried.

Pros

– Well constructed with an excellent use of fabrics
– Superb breathability and comfort for hot weather
– Chamois strikes a smart balance between padding, flexibility and breathability

Cons

– They’ll certainly cost you, as we’ve come to expect, but Rapha do offer the cheaper Lightweight bib shorts (thought they’re still £155) as well

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